APL Colloquium

December 17, 1999

Colloquium Topic: Laser Radar in Ballistic Missile Defense

Interception of ballistic missiles presents many technical challenges one of which is a demanding remote sensing application. Recently, flight tests demonstrated that radar and passive infrared (IR) sensors have the capability to locate a target and to guide the interceptor toward impact. As the technology of ballistic missiles evolves, not only their range increases but their design includes features that will make sensing more difficult. The new generation of ballistic missiles separates the warhead and other parts of the missile in mid-course flight, presenting a group of several smaller components among which the warhead has to be identified. Warhead decoys can also be deployed by a ballistic missile to increase the number of candidate objects. To allow enough time for guiding the interceptor, its sensors may need to identify the warhead at large distances, such as 100 km or more depending on the engagement. For an effective impact, the section on the warhead where the interceptor should hit has to be determined from distances of several kilometers. These discrimination and aim-point selection tasks place an unprecedented demand on the resolution and sensitivity that sensors have to achieve with a modest aperture and a stringent size limitation. Owing to its active mode of operation and choice of wavelengths shorter than those of passive IR, laser radar (ladar) can provide higher angular resolution, as well as distance and frequency measurements. Several laboratories and ladar manufacturers are exploring the potential of a ladar system as an additional sensor on board an interceptor. This talk will highlight the advantages and limitations of ladar, the interpretation of the sensed information and its potential use in characterizing the target.

Colloquium Speaker: Isaac N. Bankman

Dr. Isaac N. Bankman is a member of the Electro-Optical Systems Group in the Air Defense Systems Department at APL. He received his B.Sc. degree in Electrical Engineering from Bogazici University, Turkey in 1977, the M.Sc. degree in Electronics from University of Wales, Britain, in 1979, and a Ph.D. degree in Biomedical Engineering from the Technion University, Israel, in 1985. He worked on signal and image processing projects as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Research Associate at the Johns Hopkins Biomedical Engineering Department during 1986-1990 before joining APL where he has been involved primarily in signal detection, image analysis, sensor modeling, and pattern recognition. He serves as principal investigator in sponsored programs and IR&D projects on laser radar remote sensing and imaging. Dr. Bankman is the Chief Editor of a forthcoming Handbook of Medical Image Processing to be published by the Academic Press and has mentored several graduate students. He has authored more than 30 scientific publications and is a member of SPIE, OSA, and IEEE.